There was a stoic silence at the BJP headquarters over its MP Subramanian Swamy’s tweets targeting senior union ministers, but the unease within the party was palpable.
As Swamy’s tweets got more bellicose and even personal, the unrelenting attack apparently aimed at finance minister Arun Jaitley, besides senior officials, has caused anguish within the BJP, party sources said. BJP leaders want the leadership to warn Swamy, they said.
For the third consecutive morning, Swamy created a flutter with his tweets. “People giving me unasked for the advice of discipline and restraint don’t realise that if I disregard discipline there would be a bloodbath,” he threatened.
This came a day after Jaitley had countered Swamy’s criticism of economic affairs secretary Shaktikanta Das saying it was “an unfair and false attack on a disciplined civil servant in the finance ministry.”The minister had also criticised Swamy after he demanded the ouster of Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian.
“The party has said it doesn’t share Swamy’s view. I will also add one more fact from the point of view of the discipline of Indian politicians to what extent should we attack those, the discipline and constraint of whose offices prevent them from responding and this has happened more than once,” Jaitley had said.
Swamy went a step further on Friday. “BJP should direct our Ministers to wear traditional and modernised Indian clothes while abroad. In coat and tie, they look like waiters,” he said. He took no names but the message, minutes after images of Jaitley wearing a suit on his China tour flashed on television, appeared implicit.
Senior BJP leaders are of the view that he has crossed the line and that personal comments were unacceptable, sources said. The party, however, was treading cautiously and had refrained from making any statement in response to the tweets.
One of the reasons for the silence, according to sources, was that a considered decision had to be made at the top level on how to deal with the Rajya Sabha MP’s diatribe. So far, it was Jaitley alone who has been openly taking on Swamy, in response to his comments.
The sources also refuted that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the BJP’s ideological mentor, was backing his tirade. They said while the RSS did support his induction into the party and Rajya Sabha because of the role he played in the past few years when he took on the Congress leadership, it would not be in favour of such an open criticism that could hurt the government and the party. From attacking the Gandhi, Swamy had started training his guns within the BJP.
On Wednesday, BJP leaders had said that Swamy’s criticism of Subramanian were his personal views, unlike when he attacked RBI governor Raghuram Rajan.